James O’Donovan may have scuppered his championship hopes but Arthur McDonagh’s second major, in bowling terms, from the summer tournament circuit is ample compensation for that Beal na Morrive defeat. The inaugural hosting of the Dan O’Riordan Cup senior tournament has proved an unmitigated success for a rejuvenated Bantry Bowling Club and has brought senior bowling back to one of the games great bastions for the first time since some still fondly remembered confrontations of the late nineties when the Murphy's International Mussel Festival was in its heyday. McDonagh’s triumph in Saturday’s decider came on the back of a power-packed performance that yielded a bowl of odds victory over a game runner-up, Michael Bohane. He may have rode his luck a little in his Noel Phair Cup victory over Patrick Flood at Shannonvale, but there can by no denying that the execution and delivery exhibited in the vast majority of the twelve he threw on Saturday were of the highest order. Bohane’s opener was good, but McDonagh came close and then benefitted from two slightly wayward efforts from the Carbery man, both of which were right of the sop. McDonagh’s fourth was a thundering drive up to ‘McSweeney’s farm’ and by that early stage he was just forty metres short of a bowl of odds ahead. Bohane fought a sterling battle in the next exchanges and was unlucky at ‘Casey’s lane’ when a well-drilled sixth did not get justice. The odds were reducing though and were back to thirty metres following a fine seventh to ‘Cronin’s cross’. McDonagh repelled the threat with brilliant ninth and tenth shots and, with an excellent twelfth, eventually rose the bowl of odds. With the line in sight, it was enough to take the Dan O’Riordan Cup to the North East division.
Sunday was final day at Ballinacarriga and here, old rivals Noel O’Regan and Adrian Buttimer renewed acquaintance in a covid interrupted junior C tournament decider. It was an engaging joust with both finalists mixing the very good with the decidedly average. That it went to the last shot says plenty about the competitiveness of both contenders who had come through a sixteen-man field. County junior B champion, O’Regan was away to a lead of close to a bowl of odds after a splendid opener and looked like raising two as Buttimer struggled to get going in the shots to ‘Manch bridge’. It was under the shot when the early leader fired his third to the right as Buttimer found traction with a good fifth. O’Regan showed why he will keep many in junior A busy with three of the finest from back of the bridge to the ‘creamery cross’. Buttimer did well to keep it at a bowl here and was then unlucky with fine effort for sight at ‘Hehir’s’. Still the bowl in it, Buttimer looked to have lost all hope with a badly misplayed effort at ‘Granure cross’ but, just as quickly, he put it back in the melting pot with an astounding effort to ‘McSweeney’s’. O’Regan responded well and still held good law but missed the line giving Buttimer had a late chance to salvage it. The right-hand track did not yield the expected dividends for Buttimer and, in a memorable year for him, Noel O’Regan added the winner’s cup to his 2023 collection. Ballinacarriga bowling clubs’ Eugene O’Sullivan thanked the players for their cooperation. The stake money at issue amounted to €2,400. Previous cup tournament winners at Ballinacarriga were Brendan O’Neill and Chris Murray.
Margaret Daly’s CUH Cancer fund-raisers are very much part of bowling’s August schedule and, true to form, bowlers from across the grade and age spectrum accommodated the Shannonvale woman’s plea for participation. Starting on Thursday evening when local, John Connolly won the opening score from Michael Carroll through to Sunday evening as Tim Maloney and Johnny Byrnes brought the curtain down, a multitude of scores, many carrying significant stakemoney and many too ending in pulsating finishes, made for another very successful undertaking. The feature on Sunday involved seniors Gary Daly and Aidan Murphy and went for a €16,200 total. The Fermoy man had lost their previous three jousts and needed the win to keep the balance right. He duly delivered but only after a close call. He held a bowl lead approaching ‘Desmond’s’ but failed to make it out with his seventh and Murphy dug in to lead as they played down to ‘Tobins’s’. Daly regained the ascendancy with nice pitch to ‘Campbell’s’ and defied a brilliant sixteenth from Murphy to forge a last shot win. In the forenoon at Shannonvale, Denis Wilmot overhauled a bowl lead to defeat Edmund Sexton and newly crowned junior A All-Ireland champion, Denis O’Sullivan defeated Andrew O’Callaghan.
A couple of thrillers on Saturday saw Paul Buckley avenge a Thursday Ballincurrig defeat to Wayne Parkes and Flor Crowley stun the road with a last shot victory for the ages. For a €6,000 total, Buckley came from almost a bowl down after twelve to forge a last shot win in the former while Crowley’s cracker with Darren Harrington, their second of the fund-raiser weekend, ended in a welter of excitement. The pair have engaged in a wholesome rivalry with Harrington getting the better and looking stronger in their Rosscarbery encounter of a month ago. Friday’s contest at Shannovale saw Crowley overturn that result with a bowl of odds win for a €6,000 total but he sparks really flew when they re-engaged in a return after Buckley-Parkes on Saturday for a whopping €28,000 total. Crowley’s big start saw him a bowl and fifty up at the half-way line, but that lead was gradually whittled away before Harrington’s ferocious second last left twenty metres in for the last shots. The Darrara man looked certain to have made the greatest of comebacks when he lined a magnificent last, but his Caheragh rival stayed in the zone and beat a forbidding tip to much acclaim. All Shannonvale results are in the Carbery section.
In a Jim O’Driscoll Cup intermediate score at Ballincurrig Wayne Parkes prevailed in a tight contest with Paul Buckley, last shot, for €3,400 and, in the Tim White Cup at Rosscarbery, Gavin Twohig, two bowls up at Cahermore cross, survived a good comeback from Denis Wilmot to take a place in the second-round draw. Twohig’s blistering start saw him go two shots up but he needed that cushion as Wilmot brought it to the last throw. The stake at issue here amounted to €3,100. At Whitechurch, Michael O’Donnell defeated Shane Lotty, one bowl, for €2,000.
An action-packed championship week saw the junior C and novice grades progress to the later rounds. Rivalries intensified and stakes were high in some instances as contenders vied for coveted final spots. Terelton was the venue for the Carbery/North East quarterfinals and it was the latter region who came through in the Monday, Wednesday and Thursday novice A, B and junior C shoot-outs. Shaun Buckley set up a semi-final meeting with Gaeltacht’s Liam Murphy when he defeated Caheragh’s Danny Coughlan in the novice B contest on Monday. They played for a total of €1,600. The stakes were higher on Wednesday when Willie O’Donnell and John Cahalane clashed for a place in the junior C semi-finals. €25,300 was accumulated in total before the players threw off at the Gaeltacht venue and it was O’Donnell who was on the offensive straight away rising a bowl of odds after four to the ‘palms’. The Carbery champion upped it and with O’Donnell firing poor fourth and sixth shots, the lead was down to thirty metres after seven to ‘Lehane’s’. O’Donnell pulled away again in the next exchanges and would not be caught. Three big shots through the ‘garage point’ restored his bowl lead and he went on to win by two. City’s Jimmy Quilligan awaits in the semi-final. On Thursday after a cracking contest, North East were again in the winner’s enclosure. Michael Ahern and Colm Crowley played out a magnificent shot for shot duel for a €3,100 total. Ahern had the better of it early on but only by metres and, when Crowley opened up with a super cast through the ‘garage’, it looked good for the Carbery camp. Ahern fired a big second last, but Crowley beat that too and was unlucky not to score the line. The last shots decided it and it was Ahern’s well-tracked final effort that won the day and a place in the semis against City’s Mark Long. On Tuesday at The Clubhouse, Carbery were also on the receiving end when South-West’s Jack O’Driscoll came with a last surge to deny Darren O’Brien in a novice D quarterfinal contest. For a €6,600 total, O’Brien made an excellent start rising a bowl after three and looked to increase his advantage as they played to ‘the chips’. O’Driscoll kept it to the bowl of odds here and inched his way back before taking his first lead at the three-quarter point by ‘Murray’s’. They battled it to a last shot finish with the South-West coming through in that vital exchange. A final spot was up for grabs when The Clubhouse winner, met his City namesake Mick O’Driscoll (Jun), Blarney, in the penultimate round at Castletownkenneigh on Saturday evening. For a €1,100 total stake, Jack rose the bones of a bowl lead as they played away from the village. The City champion had it level at the ‘triangle’ and produced a blinding finish to win by the bowl. Carbery bowlers got a long-awaited win at Ballinacurra, Upton, on Sunday morning when Gavin Crowley won his novice C semi-final from City’s Colm O’Callaghan. In a very competitive contest played for a €2,000 total, Crowley went a bowl up after three only to lose that advantage when O’Callaghan staged a fine rally in the shots down past ‘Perrot’s’. The City champion, came in front then and led by thirty for the last shots. Crowley produced his best of the day and won the last vital exchange by twenty metres. Kevin O’Donoghue or David Desmond await in the final.
On Wednesday evening at Templemichael East Cork’s Wayne Kingston took on Mid’s Eoin O’Donovan in a novice A quarterfinal and it was Kingston who prevailed in an exciting finish. For a €1,400 total, O’Donovan held a good lead with three to go. Kingston fired an exceptional effort that reclaimed ground and finished in style too with a big last shot giving him the verdict and a semi-final spot against West Cork’s Brian O’Driscoll, a contest at Castletownkenneigh that will surely whet the appetite. John A Murphy booked a junior C semi-final place with a comfortable quarterfinal victory over East’s Michael O’Leary at Whitchurch on Friday. The Mid Cork champion was close to three bowls up at ‘bula lane’. He plays North’s Shane Collins in the semi-final round at Clondrohid. On the same evening at Whitechurch Mid Cork’s Donnacha O’Donovan from Waterfall won his novice D quarterfinal with East’s Noel O’Driscoll after a good contest that carried a €1,200 total stake. Next up for O’Donovan is a semi-final meeting with North Cork’s Paul Twomey. In the novice B semi-final at Firmount on Sunday evening, Gaeltacht’s Liam Murphy pulled out the stops in a terrific win over North East’s Shaun Buckley. For a €3,400 total, three piledrivers in the middle third gave last years U16 All-Ireland winner, the vital leeway. West Cork’s David O’Brien will be Murphy’s final opponent in what should be a terrific decider. O’Brien won his semi-final battle with East Cork’s Sean Hegarty at Jagoe’s Mills on Sunday morning. For a €700 total, the West Cork champion rose a two-bowl lead by the three-quarter stage.
The girls U12 and U14 county rounds progressed, and North Cork’s Chloe Hubbard is again showing what a talented performer she is. Chloe won her U12 quarterfinal round score with West Cork’s rising star Grace O’Sullivan at Clondrohid. In the U114 championship at The Clubhouse South West’s Grace Ahern won from Carbery’s Maebh Cuinnea. North Cork’s Jena Healy is through to the U14 final after a great battle with Mid’s Anna Deane at Macroom. In the vintage grade at Castletownkenneigh two of Mid Cork’s greatest troubadours Teddy Murphy and Gene O’Callaghan faced off and it was Murphy who prevailed.
There was a big turnout at Baile Bhuirne on Thursday for the Ladies committee organised women and U18 girl’s European championship road trials. Big figures too were posted with Hannah Sexton, back from injury, in fine form as also were senior county champion, Geraldine Curtin, Ailbhe O’Shea and Megan Collins. For the girls, newly crowned All-Ireland winner Ellen Sexton was closely followed by Gaeltacht champion, Darcy O’Brien and Laura Sexton. Less encouraging was the turn-out for the boys and men Moors and German Loft trials at Castletownkenneigh’s Auto-Track on Sunday morning. Martin Coppinger set the early marker while Brian Wilmot, Tim Young and James O’Sullivan did well on the difficult surface.
Regional action centres around junior ladies, U12 and U14 girls and, of course, the ubiquitous novice E now an integral part of most regions programme. In West Cork novice E at Ballinacarriga, Timmie O’Sullivan won from Jamie Walsh and Padraigh McCarthy got the better of John O’Donovan. In the Gaeltacht an exciting girls U14 final was played out at Baile Bhuirne mid-week. After a very close finish, Cliona O’Brien won in the last shot from Orla Murphy. In North Cork novice E at Firmount Trevor O’Sullivan won from Oisin Fogarty, last shot, for €700. Re-engaging, Fogarty won the return, again, last shot, for €800. In the North Cork junior lady’s final at Beal na Morrive Rachel Lucey won from Rebecca Wall.
For those of a certain vintage, Paddy Murray, Rossmore, was the welcoming face who greeted bowlers and their supporters to Ballygurteen bowling club. His passing in early August evoked memories of a wonderful personality whose dedication to the sport he loved was never questioned. Paddy’s involvement in bowling spanned almost five decades and he was there when the club was reformed in the late seventies. Soon, Ballygurteen, became one of the game’s most popular venues. Along with Jerry Holland, Jerry Keohane and later joined by Vincent Dullea, Paddy was to the forefront in organising junior A tournaments as well as competitions facilitating bowlers of all grades. The O’Connell/Dullea Cup involving the games best became a major fixture on the bowling calendar. Paddy acted as referee for many epic encounters played on the road and was an effective and highly respected administrator too in his capacity as treasurer of the club. His many friends from the bowling world accompanied him on his final journey to Rossmore Cemetery on Tuesday last. Sympathies are extended to the Murray family. Rest in Peace. The passing of John Daly, Bantry, recalled memories of a fine exponent of the sixties and early seventies. John played at junior level and the era of Sandy Gibbons and Percy Deane.